For all who encountered Sandra Lee Sokolik throughout her lifetime, they would surely agree she embodied the spirit of love, generosity, and compassion, unlike any other soul upon God’s beautiful Earth. Those who knew her intimately were blessed to experience life through Sandra’s eyes, seeing the world as a place of goodness, love, and beauty.
Sandra was born in St. Louis, Missouri on February 13, 1938, to her loving parents Dave and Betty. In her younger years, Sandra developed a love of books. Reading stories of great adventures and of a world beyond her own, embedded within her a thirst for travel, education, and knowledge on which she would later act and fulfill.
Sandra married early in life and brought into the world her greatest loves, sons Justin and Danny. She found immense joy in motherhood, doting on her children in the true Jewish mother fashion. When the situation wasn’t what she hoped it would be for her children, she divorced, a bold step for a woman of those times. Not fully fulfilled in a second marriage either, she divorced again and decided to live her life to the fullest!
She began attending night school classes at the prestigious Washington University while working, supporting herself and her kids. She ultimately earned a double degree in education and library science. Never one to put herself in the spotlight, upon graduation, she threw a party for Justin and Dan whom she said endured years of frozen dinners during her education. Sandra engaged her love of travel, adventure, and knowledge by touring the world with the Elder Hostel organization that offered voyages featuring educators and experts providing information on the various locations they visited. During that time, she dated and met the man with whom she would spend the rest of her life and whom she considered her greatest love as a partner, Jim Steffen. They bonded in their common interest of all things educational, literary, theatrical, musical, architectural, and of course, animals!
Perhaps Sandra’s most courageous act was when she chose to leave the corporate world behind and become an entrepreneur. Driven by her love of animals, she pushed past her fears and sleepless nights, starting her first-ever business, PetMom, Inc., a pet sitting company. Her intention was to maintain only a small list of clients whom she could service herself. Yet, Sandra’s infectious love and compassion for animals soon drew in a multitude of customers, each with precious little creatures whom she was simply unable to refuse. PetMom, Inc. thrived for 22 years, only ceasing operation when Sandra became too ill to be present for her clients.
In 2015 Sandra received her first cancer diagnosis. Always the determined soul, she chose life and beat her illness back into remission. During her treatments, Sandra was never one to focus on her own troubles. She spoke of her concern for the women she met in the chemo room and expressed her appreciation that her illness was not as severe as some others. Only those closest to Sandra knew just how hard the fight was for her. Yet, upon beating her illness, she got right back to the business of living. For the next three years, she put her attention on caring for animals and traveling.
Sadly, cancer would interrupt Sandra’s life two more times. During her third round of chemotherapy, she decided that the limited results of the medication no longer made her fight worthwhile. Just as she had lived her life, Sandra made a bold and determined choice to end her treatments and let nature take its course. For Sandra, this was not a surrender to cancer but a victory for life. She could now live out her days free of the distress her treatments caused her. She was determined to live out her days with as much joy and fullness that life would allow.
As her disease took greater hold, the outpouring of love toward Sandra was immense and nearly overwhelming. Her son Dan, became something of a social secretary, scheduling the many visitors clamoring to see her. Her nursing crew, one by one, fell under the spell of Sandra’s love, requesting to spend more and more time with her beyond their shifts. Like all people who knew Sandra, they quickly recognized the uniqueness of this soul upon Earth and were drawn to help and serve her.
On December 21st, 2020 at 5:12 am Sandra Sokolik took her final breath, leaving life exactly as she had lived it – on her own terms. Up until her final hours, she had been laughing and joking with her sons, family, and her closest loves. Nearly right up to her end, Sandra continued seeing beauty everywhere.
Sandra is survived by her grateful and loving sons Justin and Dan Gordon, by her life-partner Jim, her brother Richard and sister-in-law Susie as well as her sister-in-law Myrna, Justin’s wife Dilla, their daughter Lily, whom Sandra loved beyond words, and Dan’s fiancé, Rosalind. Those who loved her and would consider themselves to be a part of this list could fill volumes. All those who knew Sandra both casually and intimately would agree they were forever touched by her love, compassion, and affection.
Indeed, if there was a final remaining word to be said of this miraculous woman’s life it would be simply, love. Love for life, love for people, love for animals, love for all that she touched and saw over her wonderful 82 years of life on God’s beautiful Earth. Sandra will be missed by all but never forgotten by any.
Private family service was held.
BERGER MEMORIAL SERVICE